The Money Diet, week 11: Could exercise start paying off?

So my 6-year-old daughter and I played Frisbee this week.

"I'll throw it, and you try to catch it," Lorelei explained, helpfully, apparently not realizing I've played the game before. "Then you throw it back. Then I'll throw it to you. And if it doesn't come near you, you run after it." Her eyes twinkled as she added, mischievously, "if you can."

Only 6, and she's already quick with the fat jokes.

The occasional ribbing in my family is always meant good-naturedly, but sometimes I feel like Jackie Gleason. The dialogue between my kids and wife and I don't quite match what was said in the 1950s' TV classic, The Honeymooners, but a lot of those zingers wouldn't be out of place in our household.
Ralph: You have just made fun of something very big that's close to my heart.
Alice: The only thing big that's close to your heart is your stomach.

Ralph (upon explaining another get-rich scheme): This is probably the biggest thing I ever got into.
Alice: The biggest thing you ever got into was your pants.

Ralph: What do you know about fishing? When have you ever caught anything?
Alice: Fifteen years ago. I caught 300 pounds of blubber.
But before I go on, a little introduction is in order. As regular readers of this column know, every week I've been writing about my attempts to slim down. A few months ago, on January 1 to be exact, I pledged to lose some serious weight this year, after seeing my scale reach an all-time high of 264 pounds. I dubbed my fitness plan "The Money Diet." Every week, I tally up what I'm saving by not buying junk food and snack food. My hope is that by avoiding that kind of food because I want to save money, I'll lose weight.

Since I brought up The Honeymooners, I'd just like to point out that one episode shows that the Kramdens understood the connection between junk food and money. When complaining about Alice spending too much, Ralph said, "The bills will get bigger and bigger, and I'll get less to eat. I'll start losing weight."

Of course, Ralph had to add: "Then you know what I'll look like?"

"Yeah," snapped Alice. "A human being."

Anyway, I have lost weight on this Money Diet, but I've been in a holding pattern for a while now. Still, I think there's hope. As the weather turns warmer, I've been exercising more, mostly with my youngest daughter, Lorelei, which is how we came to play Frisbee twice this week.

She's been acting as my fitness coach and is tougher than she looks. A few weeks ago, I wrote about how she challenged me to a round of push-ups. Since then, she's had me do more sit-ups and push-ups with her, and she's been challenging me to races. It's not exactly as effective as going to the gym and getting on a treadmill, but in a way, it's harder. I can slow down the treadmill or StairMaster or lose myself to whatever I'm listening to on the headphones, but when I'm playing Frisbee with a six-year-old, it's harder to cut corners.

So I found myself chasing after her Frisbee every time it landed and started rolling away, and trying in general not to look like a fool in front of my daughter. By the time we were finished, about twenty minutes later, I was panting and generally disheveled.

"Now, let's race," said Lorelei.

"Race? With our feet?"

Then I noticed how good Lorelei's become at rolling her eyes.

"Seriously, maybe we could have a crawling race?" I said.

"Daddy, c'mon! Just one race."

"Maybe," I said, "we could go inside now. You know, you don't watch enough TV. And haven't I told you that you should be playing more video games?"

"C'mon, Daddy, please. Let's just run to that tree."

And, of course, we ran. To the tree. And then to another tree. And then to the fence. And then to another tree. And then I think I blacked out.

Let's move on. Here's my list for this week, the list I keep of how much I'm saving by not eating as much junk food and snack foods as I normally would if I weren't on this new fitness plan.
  • As usual, I didn't buy two bags ("buy one, get one free") of pretzels that I used to always purchase. And I actually stopped in the aisle this week and looked longingly at them. One day, I'll get them again, but I know that I'll scarf them down in one or two nights. In fact, this week, I bought some rice cakes, and those were gone in about 24 hours, which, of course, may help explain why I'm not losing weight. Still, I know they're a better snack choice than the pretzels, which I still can't trust myself with. Actual savings: $3.29.
  • One of my daughters had a friend over, and we all had McDonald's (I think I mention McDonald's every week; I never realized what a hold they have on our family until I started writing this column). Like I've done in weeks past, I told my wife not to buy me French fries. I opted for grilled chicken and a Diet Coke. So estimated savings (since I'm not bothering to write down and calculate exactly how much we saved): $1.50.
  • I absentmindedly almost had some cookies with my lunch yesterday. You would think I wouldn't do something like that after 11 weeks of dieting, but I had fixed myself a turkey sandwich and couldn't find anything to go with it, and, in a weak moment, I reached for this little bag of cookies on top of the refrigerator. I suddenly realized what I was doing and found some low-fat cottage cheese to have instead. Estimated savings, since there were only four cookies left in the bag: $0.30.
  • Several times, I almost had a midnight snack and then punted, and for each of those moments averted, I estimate I saved $2. So we'll say that my estimated savings was: $8.
My total saved this week: $13.09
Total saved this year so far: $258.11

As you can see, none of this is scientific. I just do this to get myself thinking about what I'm eating. And I'm definitely thinking about what I'm putting in my mouth, and what I'm not, of course.

Anyway, I'm still in a holding pattern, just as I was last week and the week before. But I have a feeling after a few more rounds of Frisbee, I may just leap out of this plateau I'm in.

My weight when I began: 264
My weight last week: 247
My weight this week: 247

Geoff Williams is a frequent contributor to WalletPop and, yes, a fan of The Honeymooners. He is also the co-author of the new book Living Well with Bad Credit.
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